The National Democratic Congress has set for itself a simple mission: 'Operation Overthrow NPP.' By any means necessary, the New Patriotic Party must be out of power.
The NDC leadership, reeling under the relentless flood of resignations, believes it has found a sustainable issue for mass mobilisation and one that has the potential to send the NPP packing. Indeed, even the nihilistic hardliners at the opposition front are pushing for a violent overthrow.
“As for the men in green, they should know that we are waiting for them and any day they strike, we would be out there in our numbers to sing their praise,” was how The Ghanaian Palaver, a paper controlled by some of the big and trusted brains behind the NDC, put it on Tuesday.
Investigations undertaken by The Statesman have uncovered that the NDC plans to use the Valentine's Day demonstration against the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill as a launching pad for a series of agitations aimed at bringing the government down.
The NDC, which has chosen not to participate in the parliamentary process of the ROPAB has, however, given a strong warning that a partisan passage of the Bill would lead to “disputed elections, which could directly result in conflict.”
This followed Thursday's announcement by the Parliamentary Minority that it was embarking on a blanket boycott of Parliament indefinitely in protest over what it described as the "wanton and flagrant disrespect for minority rights" by the Majority. The move was designed to prepare the ground for a series of mass agitations, beginning with next Tuesday's demonstration. It is yet to be determined whether the Bagbin-led group would continue to draw their salaries. He believes the boycott is based on a “reasonable cause” and would therefore not lead to a forfeiture of their seats if it goes beyond the 21-day constitutional ceiling.
“This boycott is precipitated by the unprecedented referral to the Privileges Committee [of Parliament] of a letter written for and on behalf of the MP for Avenor-Ave, Mr Doe Adjaho, by his counsel, seeking respect for the Constitution and laws of Ghana," the Minority Leader explained at a morning press conference at Parliament House.
“The move by the Majority and subsequent referral by the Speaker, only reflects the growing intolerance and disrespect for the Minority's rights in Ghana's current Parliament," Alban Bagbin argued.
He further stated, “The other factor is the determined effort of the Majority to bulldoze the ROPAB through Parliament notwithstanding opposition from other political stakeholders and sensible advice from civil society."
“We are heading for a civil war,” Kofi “Chuck” Wayo warned last year, a caution which seemed like just another puff of smoke from his cigar. The occasion was his Vibe FM programme on Friday, October 28, 2005. He said the NPP was on the verge of throwing the country into a state of anarchy and that the passage of the Bill into law would almost certainly plunge Ghana into a state of violent conflict.
Obed Yao Asamoah, as NDC National Chairman gave a hint back in July 2005 of a possible upheaval.
“I am afraid that rushing to amend the Bill would create unnecessary provocation in the atmosphere,” he cautioned.
But, Dr Asamoah has since left and is leading the biggest threat against the NDC as the alternative to the ruling NPP, the proposed Democratic Freedom Party. With a dove, symbolising peace, as its preferred symbol, the new party is scheduled to be launched by April.
This is a party which draws its strength and support from the NDC. In fact, so elaborate is the Obed scheme to cut the NDC to size that many NDC loyalists are wondering whether it is not about time to consider bringing the NPP down by any means necessary.
“We will continue in collaboration with like-minded political stakeholders to use all legitimate instruments available to us to prevent the NPP from dragging our dear country Ghana down the slippery slopes of instability and confrontation," Mr Bagbin sought to assure the nation Thursday, adding with some paradox, "We therefore decided as a first step to disengage from the proceedings of the House till further notice."
The NDC mainstream believes the controversy over moves to extend the franchise to Ghanaians abroad, unlike last year's Wahala street protests over high fuel prices, is an agitation with a longer life span. One that, with tact, could render a sustained political assault on the ruling party until December 2008. It is further reasoned, our NDC sources disclose, that since the current agitation is about the integrity of the electoral process, even if the NDC loses the next general elections, unlike in the last two previous elections, where their flagbearer resisted pressure from the Founder, Jerry John Rawlings, not to accept the results, they would have a prepared motive to fight the harsh prospect of another four years in opposition.
The plan was put firmly in motion in January when members of four other parties joined the NDC to warn President Kufuor's government of “mayhem,” describing the ROPA Bill “as an elaborate and continuing scheme by the Government to subvert the democratic will of the people of Ghana.
"We as leaders of legitimate and registered political parties with a constitutional right to influence the democratic will of the nation, cannot allow the NPP government to destroy this country through electoral fraud as it intends," they said in a statement read by Kwabena Adjei, Dr Asamoah's successor.
The five parties – NDC, part of People's National Convention, National Reform Party, Great Consolidated Popular Party and Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere Party stated at that Tuesday, 24 January press conference: "We state publicly that we oppose the passage of this Bill. In the unlikely event that it is pushed through Parliament despite our opposition and warnings, we declare that we shall make its implementation impossible, using all constitutional and legitimate means available.
"If the NPP Government and Party decide to ignore our warnings, they alone shall be responsible for any chaos or instability that would follow from the passage of this Bill."
Dr Adjei stressed, "the Bill, if enacted and implemented, would almost certainly undermine public confidence in the country's electoral system,” adding, "and many Ghanaians would reject elections results declared by Ghana's High Commissioners or Ambassadors."
Responding to questions from the media, the chairman of the joint press conference, Alhaji Ramadan, gave this bare-knuckle warning to Ghanaians abroad: "If we allow this Bill to go through, you may not be able to come home; even if you should come, you will come and meet a country plunged into crisis as a result of elections...our Sub-Region has been a fertile ground for electoral disputes being settled on the battlefield. Let us save Ghana from going that path."
Thursday, Benard Mornah (PNC) and Mahama Ayariga (NDC) assured Ghanaians that next Tuesday's demonstration by the so-called Concerned Ghanaians would be peaceful and orderly and asked all Ghanaians to join in the march. This was followed on the same day with an endorsement by the NDC. But with some confusion, the NDC statement described the organisers of the street protest as 'Patriotic Ghanaians.'
"The leadership of the NDC wishes to inform all its numerous members, supporters and sympathisers that the Party has decided to fully endorse the demonstration, planned by the group to show their love for mother Ghana on this St Valentine's Day," said the statement, signed by its General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah.
The passage and implementation of the Bill "is a recipe for chaos and disaster for our nascent democracy," was the refrain cleverly repeated in Thursday's statement by the NDC.
Asking Ghanaians to “save the democracy we have sacrificed to put in place," the NDC claimed “Once the NPP is allowed to install this dangerous rigging machinery now, no amount of campaigning and vigilance by any other political party on polling day can stop it from stealing the verdict of the people in 2008 general elections."
Remarkably, the NDC is not willing to even consider the option of a referendum. The recommended wear for the demonstration on a day billed for showing love is chosen to exploit the colour of choice for the day – red. The demonstrators have asked for a touch of black, too.